Considerable research effort has focused on whether specific compounds found within human body odor influence the behavior or physiology of other individuals. The most intensively studied is 4,16-androstadien-3-one, a chemical which is known to modulate mood and have activational effects in the sympathetic nervous system in a context-dependent manner, but whose action in mate-choice contexts remains largely untested. Here we present evidence that this androgen steroid may modulate women’s judgments of men’s attractiveness in an ecologically valid context. We tested the effects of androstadienone at a speed-dating event in which men and women interacted in a series of brief dyadic encounters. Men were rated more attractive when assessed by women who had been exposed to androstadienone, an effect that was seen in two out of three studies. The results suggest that androstadienone can influence women’s attraction to men, and also that research into the modulatory effects of androstadienone should be made within ecologically valid contexts.
- Human mate choice